In the first part of a candid interview with Elliott Wilson and Brian "B.Dot" Miller on Tidal's Rap Radar podcast last week, JAY-Z opened up about his ongoing feud with Kanye West, the controversial lyrics on 4:44 standout "The Story of O.J.," and the making of his best album in years. Last night, Tidal released the second hour-long part of the conversation. There was nothing salacious for the tabloids to get their teeth into—no talk of feuds or infidelity. Instead, he talked about his daughter Blue Ivy's rapping skills, his antipathy towards rap beefs, and the conversation that he had with his mother, Gloria, about her coming out on 4:44's "Smile."
The most striking moment in the interview, however, came when JAY-Z discussed mental health with Wilson and Miller. Asked about the late Chester Bennington, who killed himself last month, Hov responded with a rumination on mental health in the music industry.
"We have to watch our health—our physical health and what we're doing with our bodies," he said. "But also our mental health. A lot of people [are] going through trauma like that, and you're too embarrassed to get help for it. Especially in these neighborhoods where we grew up. They talk about post-traumatic stress. I mean, shit. There are people, like, two of their brothers are dead, and their father got killed—that's trauma. And that's a lot of things that are not being dealt with."
"You look at people like Shakir [Stewart, the late Def Jam executive] and [late hip-hop exec] Chris Lighty and you're like, man, what could be going through their minds?," he continued. "A lot of times, we tend to view it like they were selfish. No, they wasn't, they was sick, man. They were in pain. You can't even imagine that kind of pain. Especially unchecked. Unchecked, man. We're not dealing with that because it ain't the cool thing to do. People have to really take care of themselves."
Asked about the interraction between fame, drugs, and mental health, Hov added that a pedestal can often be an added complication. "People are human," he said. "This elevated level of life, that's not normal for 10,000, 20,000 people to be screaming at you. That's not a normal thing to deal with. So when you add that on top, now you've got to start masking your pain, because you can't let all these people see. It's hard enough to talk to your family. It's hard enough for people to talk about real shit with their family[…] Imagine having to speak in front of the world."
Earlier in the episode, he discussed his daughter Blue Ivy's guest appearance on "Blue Ivy's Freestyle / We Family," a bonus cut from 4:44. Listening back to it now, it seems like the five-year-old Carter had some help from at least one of her parents. According to JAY-Z, that wasn't the case. "I start playing the beat, and I was playing it so long that then I just started doing something," he told Wilson and Miller. "And she went and got the headphones and climbed on the little stool and then she just started rapping. The pockets she was catching… I was like, 'Oh shit!'"
According to Hov, Blue Ivy's freestyle originally lasted five full minutes. "I have it on my phone, five minutes," he said. "Five minutes of her doing that. I'm talking about amazing pockets. But she kept bringing back 'boomshakalaka.' I was like, 'Oh, she understands the concept of a hook.' She's five! I was like, 'What the fuck is going on in here?"
He also discussed another family member who appears on 4:44. His mother, Gloria, provides a spoken word outro to the record and, on "Smile," JAY-Z revealed that she is gay. "Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian / Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society shame and the pain was too much to take," he rapped there. On Rap Radar, he revealed that he had to convince his mother that the lyric was a good idea.
"When she first heard the song she was like 'absolutely not,'" he said. "And I was like, 'Man, this is so important like [there's] so many people in the world hiding and this will help you. I was just so happy [to see] the person she's becoming. Just live your life, be who you are."
You can watch the episode in full at the top of the page if you have Tidal.
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